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Flexible working extension and other family-friendly policies may be delayed


The law on flexible working sustained another blow this week amid reports the Government is considering delaying the extension of the right to request flexible working for parents of children up to age 16, due to come into effect next month.

HR magazine has learned the Government could delay the right to request flexible working extension, the increase in statutory maternity pay from nine to 12 months in April 2010 and a law allowing mothers to transfer the second six months of their maternity leave to their partners, also due in April 2010.

The TUC claims if these delays go ahead it will undermine the Government's commitments to close the gender pay gap and end child poverty.

A spokesman from The Department for Business and Regulatory Reform, said: "We have not yet announced a date for extending maternity and paternity rights. We are continuing to review the appropriateness of all new regulations due to come into force in the current economic climate. It is only right that in tough economic times we look afresh at the costs and benefits of new regulations."

But BERR has denied the claims about the flexible working extension. The spokesman said:  "The right to request flexible working will be extended to parents of children aged 16 and under from April 6th. More than six million people already benefit from the right to request flexible working and another 4.5 million will be eligible from April.

"We are proud of our record on family-friendly policies and on flexible working in particular. Next month's extension of the right to request will balance parental needs with business requirements and is a fair outcome for both employers and employees."

Flexible working will be one issue discussed today at the TUC's women's conference in Scarborough.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The Government deserves credit for introducing family-friendly policies that have helped close the gender pay gap and bring hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

"The right to request flexible working has been taken up by millions of working parents. The Government would be foolish to throw away all this momentum and electoral support just to satisfy a few business lobbyists who never agreed with it in the first place.

"If the Government is serious about closing the pay gap and ending child poverty it must end these U-turn rumours and re-commit to extending family-friendly legislation from April 2010."